An Ode to the Days When I’m “Not Enough”

“Cranberry Woods” candle flickering its dance and of course, warm Colectivo coffee brewing its familiar tunes of percolation. However, it is not the wee hours of the morning in which I am siting down to this ever-pleasant routine.

It’s literally 4:18pm.

Yes, folks, I did it. I TOOK A HALF DAY. WHAT IN TARNATION.

I used to experience soooooooo much guilt for taking any time whatsoever for myself. I used to have those voices in my head telling me “you SHOULD be doing this”, followed by “what will people possibly think if you slow down at all?”, with the grand finale of “God forbid, who would you BE without this constant state of busyness?”

Not gonna lie, those voices are still there sometimes. I even caught a glimpse of them today. However, I am giving those voices a firm kick to the curb today as I take some quiet time for my spirit-not to mention for my sanity.

Ah, the lives of those who work in emotionally draining work. I feel you. I’m in the trenches with you. Let’s not assume we are immune to fatigue and need for some tender love and care, Kay?

Anywho, I’m rambling.

Do you ever feel like you are so many people at once? I don’t mean literally folks, but honestly: do you ever feel like you are trying to wear so many hats and play so many roles that you just don’t know if each of the roles are getting what they need or deserve?

I ran into this predicament yesterday evening. I’m in my car, finally dragging my butt back from the office after a near 11-hour day. 11 hours straight of being extremely emotionally present with those who have gone through the most traumatic of experiences imaginable. Rewarding work, I mean it. But goodness, does it do a number on the emotional energy. I was settling into the drivers seat and having sweet visions of sweats, wine, puppy cuddles, and SLEEP when I glance over at my phone. It’s a text from a dear friend of mine reading “”Can you call me on your way home tonight?”

Normally I’d have no problem zipping on the interstate and picking up the phone for some good girl gab, but I knew this particular friend was looking for intense emotional support as she struggles through a season of intense emotionality, pain, and trauma. My goodness, my heart goes out to this sweet person. And I want nothing more than to be there for her in any way I can.

However, last night, I just couldn’t do it. I know the intensity of need this friend is experiencing right now, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this need, after 11 hours of trying to hold people up emotionally, I was absolutely spent. And I didn’t even feel like I could make it through another conversation involving intense emotional turmoil and someone else needing something from me.

mental-illness-exhausted

Gosh, this sounds so awful typing it out like this. It sounded so awful when it entered my mind, too.

But essentially, what this exemplified was the reality of our common humanity. We are limited. We are going to disappoint people because we are limited.   There are literally some days where there is just no way around it. My capacity at that time did not match that person’s needs or desires from me. Did that mean I was wrong? No. Did that mean my needs or limits weren’t important? No. It was a classic example that we-while we walk this earth-do NOT have an unlimited supply of physical and emotional resources. Once they are out, they are OUT until we begin to replenish our selves in these areas of functioning .

Oftentimes, we find ourselves yielding to the desires and needs of others from us, completely neglecting our own limits and needs as if they were wrong. As if our needs and limits HAVE to match others’ needs and desires from us.

Come on guys, I can’t possibly be the only one who falls into this trap.

Please keep this sentiment in your hearts, sweet ones. I by this, mean no offense: We are not going to be enough for everyone. Only Jesus is enough for everyone. We do not need to place ourselves into a position where we take on a role of being unshakeable, unbreakable. We are not everyone’s solution and certainly not everyone’s Savior. And what that means is there are going to be days where we just can’t, for whatever reason, And that’s being a human.

It doesn’t mean we are selfish. It means we are aware of our commonly flawed state of existence.

There are days where the Lord leads us straight into the storm so He can show us His great arm. But just as well, there are days where he intentionally and deliberately makes us lie down in green pastures, leading us beside quiet waters to restore our soul.

Do not mistake restoration for selfishness. He, in fact, leads us otherwise.

Stay tuned,

-AF.

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Don’t call me crazy: Why I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, dears—the ringing in of the New Year! For many people, the New Year marks a time for a fresh start, a “clean slate,” and the opportunity to make some changes in the days to come. But how often do we find ourselves extremely motivated and eager at the idea of this venture, but struggle to carry out these changes on a consistent basis, let alone for very long?

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I call this the “New Year’s Resolution Syndrome” (OK, so it’s not TRULY an official name, but let me explain!).

We tend to see the New Year in the way that I just described above. While this view is not false or negative, it does not take into account the HOW factor: how we will plan to maintain our new positive habits or new perspectives once the luster of the “New Year” wears off. We become giddy with idea of all the bright and shiny new habits we can begin to form, and we look at the year as a whole while setting monumental (and oftentimes overly lofty) goals for ourselves. And once the sparkle wears off, it can leave us feeling unmotivated and defeated. We’ve all seen this before—how great we are doing in January! And then once the middle of February rolls around…we struggle, start to fall off of the “resolutions horse,” and lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place.

This happens because we can unintentionally set ourselves up for a few common mishaps:

  • Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it
  • Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track
  • Seeing the “big picture” without seeing the various components of the “journey”
  • Using “New Year’s Resolution” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves
  • Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal

We tend to do these things without even realizing—because goal-setting is positive, right? What we tend to overlook is the fact that sometimes we set goals in which we actually inhibit ourselves instead of empower ourselves. Goal-setting is a tricky science, but luckily there are positive methods for goal-setting that have the power to empower, increasing the likelihood of sticking to goals, which makes change more likely to be successful.

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Let’s bust through some of these goal-setting myths that tend to center around New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Setting a goal without breaking down the steps of how we will go about achieving it. This tends to happen when we become very excited around New Year’s, but what we fail to do is further examine the HOW factor. While I’m definitely not knocking enthusiasm, the HOW is equally as important.

Instead, try this: Remember to ask yourself, “Do I know what it will take to work toward this goal? What other changes might I need to make as a result of this intended change? How will I fit creating these habits into my schedule?” It may be helpful to write these down as they are important factors of goal success! Remembering the HOW will aid the goal into coming into fruition.

  • Setting large goals without breaking down smaller goal “milestones” in order to keep us on track. While I agree with the statement that you need to have a clear idea of where you are going in order to be able to guide yourself toward your goal destination, when we forget to keep track of the mile-markers along the way, we sometimes veer off of our goal path and into a ditch of disaster! Focusing only on the end of the goal (or the completion state of the goal) will not be enough.

Instead, try this: Think of your goal-setting process as creating a roadmap. Just like on road trips, you have to plan to make those necessary stops along the way in addition to your final destination. Breaking down your goal destination into smaller steps helps your goal seem more manageable. It will also prompt action in order to reach smaller steps that compile into your goal. This method helps keep the motivation going, and gives you opportunities to celebrate the smaller successes in order to keep you on track and keep the motivation flowing (even when the New Year’s hype wears off)!

  • Seeing the “big picture” without seeing various components of the “journey.” This is very similar to the points above. When we only have our “end point” in sight, the journey or the smaller successes can be overlooked, and we tend to miss out on the enjoyment of working toward our goals.

Instead, try this: Don’t allow yourself to miss out on the blessings that are in the journey! While it is a wonderful feeling to accomplish the end stage of your goals, there is beauty in the transitions, the growth, and the journey. Allow yourself to embrace the steps along the way, and reflect on the changes you are not only seeing but feeling as a result of all your hard work. Don’t forget to praise yourself for the smaller victories!

  • Using “New Year’s Resolution” time as the only time we set goals for ourselves. Out of all of these goal-setting myths, this one may be the most ironic. It passes under our radar because we view goal-setting in general as positive. However, when we center on New Year’s as the only (or most monumental) time for goal-setting, we place ourselves in a situation that is hard to live up to. In addition, once the hype wears off, so can our goal-work and motivation.

Instead, try this: Try making a habit of employing goal-setting at various times during the year. This can be on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. In this sense, we create a habit and (just as importantly) a mindset of goal-setting that can carry through the entire year. In utilizing this technique, we create more opportunities for success, constant reflection, and re-evaluation of our mindset and habits, along with opportunities to see our work pay off and our motivation to hold steady. Don’t be afraid to scale back the “New Year’s Resolutions” to monthly goal guideposts in order to further prompt your growth and dedication!

  • Not focusing enough on the “why” behind our goal. It’s difficult to stay motivated, energized, and dedicated toward a cause unless we know the purpose behind our activity. We tend to make our main motivator behind setting New Year’s Resolutions as “Because it’s the New Year! I want a fresh start. That’s what you do at this time of year.” When that is our largest motivation for our goals, we struggle to keep those as priorities and tend to not stay on track for very long.

Instead, try this: Firmly establish your “why” behind your goals. Explore goal options that you have a personal tie to, something that tugs at the inner part of you. Challenge yourself to find inner motivation toward your goals that goes beyond the specific time of the year. These goals will speak so much more to us and pull us toward action if we feel personally and emotionally connected to our “why” factor.
While the New Year is an excellent time to think about new beginnings, opportunities, and all the blessings God has for us, it doesn’t have to end around mid-February! We were made for more. Busting through the “myths” of goal-setting and employing techniques that aid in consistent growth and motivation have the power to give us the consistency that we crave. Now get ready, get set, get going! The Lord’s richest blessings on all you seek in His name.

Stay tuned,

 

Why I Gave Myself Permission to Turn Down a Promotion

Yup. You heard that right. I made a choice to walk away from an opportunity to “move forward and succeed”.

For those that maybe have gotten to know me a bit more on the WWW, this is not necessarily something that screams “Of course, that’s SO you!” In fact, it almost sounds like the complete opposite. No, someone else did not take over my body. No, it was not a dream.

It was actually me.

I work in a profession where we are paid by the “billable” hour, meaning time spent face-to-face with clients (let alone all the extra coordination, paperwork, and research that go into this job, which we are unfortunately NOT reimbursed for). Recently, I was given a promotional opportunity to enter into more of a supervisory role, meaning a financially stable salary-based position rather than what most of our employees at our agency have. This position would also have me be more involved with a special growing sector of our company, and take a bit more of a leadership role at my stationed site.

Sounds great right? Then why did I find myself saying “No“?

I feel like my “old habits” would have chastised me, saying “Why would you turn down an opportunity to become more financially sound when this is one of the largest things that causes you great anxiety?! Why wouldn’t you want to continue moving up the ladder in your career in order to be more esteemed and successful? Why would you say no to an agency you are loyal to, because what if they won’t think as highly of you if you don’t take this?! Why would you ever say no when you can in fact say yes?!

Gah. Aren’t those voices annoying?

Let me redeem myself here: I COULD have said yes. I certainly could have performed well in this role, as I do in fact have the experience, credentials, and qualities of one that would do well in a position such as this. It had nothing to do with not feeling equipped, or being fearful or insecure about how things would play out in that regard.

But here are the things I would have lost through this, (which I have realized have now become more important that the things I would have gained):

  • The flexibility my current work schedule provides, which is serving us greatly during this season of life
  • The freedom to work with a wide variety of individuals, as well as work specifically with the area of expertise that I am so passionate about
  • The sustainable workload that I have been working so hard at keeping myself accountable in
  • The freedom to make my own hours vs. have to work around other’s availability
  • My margin (OOOOOOH. Sincerely one of my favorite words). Meaning, the buffer that keeps us from getting too close to our ‘breaking point’. 

And when I look back on all this, what it came down to was truly this summation: I’m content. 

I’m content with where I’m at in my occupation at this time (well, aside from the ever-stressful financial aspect that comes along with this gig), but I truly at this time have no desire to do anything besides what I’m already doing at the agency. A promotion didn’t mean MORE to me, it meant LESS. I don’t have a burning urge to “do more, take on more, BE MORE!” like I had in the past. I saw what that did to me, and I DON’T want to go back there (if you’re scratching your head on what this means, read my explanation of that journey here.)

Sometimes, we have to empower ourselves to say no to even the “good” things to say yes to the “best” things. 

Let-Go

I also have to remember that I am not everyone’s solution. What’s best for me might not match someone else’s desires for me. But that does not mean that I am not making a healthy choice for myself. It simply means we have different priorities at the time, and no one is going to look out for your priorities for you. That is within my responsibility.

I feel good about this. I feel relief through this. I feel freedom through this.

This is one of the largest aspects of self I am trying to nurture this season-giving myself the freedom to exercise “no” to even the good things. Keep ya posted 🙂

What types of “good things” have you had to say no to in order to say yes to the “best things” for yourself? I’d love to connect through this.

Stay tuned,

-AF